If you throw bones - whether in the noble game of Forty-Two or the mad chaos of Chickenfoot - you'll do so in more style if you have a hand-made leather case to hold your double-sixes.
This is a fairly simple project and a good intro if you're trying to learn to hand stitch. You'll need:
- A piece of 1/8-inch thick (7-8-ounce) leather at least 12 inch x 13 inch
- A snap and tools to set it
- Stitching supplies (an awl, needles, and waxed thread at the minimum)
- Optionally: tooling supplies (a swivel knife, beveller, and mallet) and leather stain or antiquing gel
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Step 1: Cut Out the Pattern
I've attached a PDF of the pattern that will print on three 8.5x11 inch pages. Overlap them and tape them together, trace the black lines on your leather, and cut out the outline.
Step 2: Gouge the Fold Lines
The dotted red lines are fold lines. Gouge them on the flesh side of the leather. If you have one, use an adjustable v-gouge. If not, just score the lines with an X-acto knife.
Step 3: Slit the Inside Corners
To make folding a little easier, make small 1/8 inch slits at all four inside corners of the bottom section.
Step 4: Make Stitching Grooves
Use an adjustable groover to make eight stitching grooves where the four sides of the case will meet. Grooves should be about 1/8 inch from the edge.
If you don't have a groover, don't worry: the groove helps hide the stitches and make things look nice, but it isn't absolutely necessary.
Step 5: Mark Stitch Locations
Use an overstitch wheel to mark where the stitching holes will go.
If you don't have one, don't worry: all this does is make the stitch spacing nice and even.
Step 6: Cut Bevels on Side Edges
On each of the eight side edges (which will later become four stitched sides), cut a 45 degree angle on the flesh side of the leather. Use an X-acto knife or a skiver. This will help the stitched corners match up more nicely.
Step 7: Crease the Folds
Use a sponge to wet the fold grooves, then crease them with a mallet.
Step 8: Optional: Trace a Tooling Pattern
If you want to do some decorative tooling, case the leather (get it damp with a sponge and wait for it to almost return to its original color) and use a scribe or blunt pencil to trace the pattern.
Step 9: Optional: Cut the Tooling Pattern
Use a swivel knife to make shallow cuts.
Step 10: Optional: Camouflage the Tooling Pattern
Use a camouflage tool to accent stems (or do whatever else your inner creative genius tells you).
Step 11: Optional: Pear-Shade the Tooling Pattern
Use a pear-shader on leaves and petals
Remember to keep re-casing the leather as necessary. You want to keep everything in that clay-like state of dampness. As the edges dry out, re-dampen them with a sponge, and the moisture will migrate inward to keep the entire piece damp.
Step 12: Optional: Bevel the Tooling Pattern
Use a beveler to bring the design into relief.
Step 13: Optional: Add Background and Decorative Cuts
Use a background tool to texture and depress any shadows. Add decorative shallow cuts with the swivel knife.
Step 14: Bevel Edges
Use an edge beveler to round all the edges that will not end up being stitched.
Step 15: Burnish the Edges
Use an edge slicker and some water or gum traganth to burnish the rounded edges and make them look extra nice.
Step 16: Apply Finishing Products
I usually apply an antiquing gel (for color) followed by a few clear coats of Tandy's "Super Shene" (for protection). You could also use an oil, wax, or any of about a jillion other tried and true leather finishing techniques.
Step 17: Thread Two Needles
Cut a manageable length of waxed thread and thread a needle on each end.
If you don't have waxed thread, you can just rub regular thread with wax.
If you don't have wax, just use regular thread.
Step 18: Stitch the First Side
- Use an awl to punch the bottom hole. Pass thread through the hole until you have even lengths on both sides.
- Punch the next hole up and pass both needles through the hole (one from the right, one from the left). Repeat for all remaining holes.
- Backstitch through at least one hole. This will hold the stitch and eliminate the need for any knot.
Step 19: Stitch the Remaining Sides
After trimming the thread from the first side, you'll be left with two lengths of thread and two needles. Knot them together and use this slightly modified technique to keep sewing without re-threading your needles:
- Punch the second hole from the bottom. Pass both needles through and pull tight with the knot on the outside.
- Punch and stitch the bottom hole.
- Backstitch the second hole from the bottom, then continue stitching upward until you reach the top.
- Backstitch and trim.
Step 20: Add Half of the Snap to the Front Flap
I used line 24 snaps, which are pretty easy to use if you have the setting tools. Just punch a hole and set the cap and socket together.
Step 21: Add the Other Half of the Snap to the Front Side
Repeat the process with the post and stud.
Step 22: Optional: Add a Felt Bottom
Optionally, you can cut a thin piece of cardboard and glue some felt to it to make a nice bottom for the case.
Step 23: Enjoy
You now have a sweet case to hold dominoes in; the perfect gift for your Mexican Train-loving grandma or tower-building toddler. Enjoy!